I will freely admit that the use of pens during tutoring sessions is one of my biggest pet peeves. In everyday life, I have nothing against them (I actually like them quite a bit), but when it comes to the SAT, I loathe them. I’ve been known to rummage in my purse for up to five minutes in a desperate attempt to circumvent the necessity of working in ink.

Here why: When you use a pen, you can’t erase things (let’s assume we’re not talking about erasable pens), and when you can’t erase things, you tend to get very cautious about crossing them out. And that can be a major problem. In order to work most effectively, you need to be free to eliminate answers conclusively, to draw lines all the way through them and totally remove them from consideration. If you work in pen, you probably won’t do this.

Because you may not be 100% certain that the answers you’re crossing out are in fact wrong, you’ll hesitate and cross out just part of the answer, or worse just cross out the letter. And if you do that, you will get distracted. Sooner or later, you’ll overlook the “x” you made and start to reconsider the options you actually crossed out.

At best, you’ll waste some time looking at options you already eliminated. At worst, you might accidentally misread and fill in a wrong letter. On the other hand, if you truly cross everything out the answer out, the chances of this happening are much, much lower. But you probably won’t truly cross things out unless you get a pencil. It doesn’t matter if it’s a #2. And if you’re really in the mood to take a walk on the wild side, it can even be mechanical;)